Have you been bored recently? I’m not just talking about the fleeting moments of monotony that wash over like a wave which while containing considerable weight pass over relatively quickly, or the fifteen minutes or so between tasks that find you at a loose end, twiddling your thumbs or whatever other object comes close to hand. No; I mean the kind of bored where all the clocks seem to not only stop but edge slowly in reverse; where tedium rains down like a flood, washing away and sending out any traces of diverting activity far into the distance. The type of bored that is not just a temporary state of mind but seeps deeper, conquering all of your surroundings so that you become a fully-fledged resident of the Land of Ennui. We’ve all been there at some point, some more often than others – although, there’s so much going on at The Reader Organisation that there’s hardly any ever call to be bored. But there may be the occasional instant where we’ve misplaced our reading material and can’t track down anything else to our tastes (though such an occurrence is admittedly as rare as seeing a red squirrel scamp across the autumnal atmosphere).
It seems like TRO staff and all of our readers may be in the minority when it comes to, at least for 99% of the time, escaping the clutches of the Boredom Monster (I don’t suspect that particular monster would be very menacing – it’d be far too sluggish to do much scaring). Two years ago, Britain was given the rather dubious honour of being the fourth most bored nation in Europe – who knows, we may have risen in the ranks since that time has elapsed – with the average Briton experiencing mind-numbing monotony for a grand total of six hours a week. Even with many distractions, some pleasant (like reading) and some not so, the scourge of boredom seems to be unstoppable; “I’m bored”, it would seem, is not just the famed war-cry of millions of children. Yet perhaps being bored is not such a terrible thing to endure; we shouldn’t rush to give it a bad name. Indeed in certain cases it can be precisely the opposite; when we are weighed down with unending, overflowing workloads, the chance to wallow in nothingness is positively relished. Boredom, like all things in life, is quite healthy in moderation. In a number of instances being bored ends up being quite oxymoronic; providing a catalyst for change, emptying the mind of often unnecessary worries, allowing situations to be seen from a different and potentially inspiring angle. Sometimes it just so happens that inactivity, far from being an idle waste of time, is in fact the breeding ground for an immense amount of productivity (although, that’s not always a valid excuse to put off any important tasks…)
Then it should be no great surprise that frequent bouts of boredom are common amongst those with the most creative minds, and many of the most fantastical works of fiction have been created as a consequence of their authors being totally, completely, utterly bored out of their brains. Someone who was no stranger to the condition was Charlotte Bronte; in fact her writing career was conceived in the midst of it, as she would write poems to stop herself being completely consumed with boredom. So really, we should be grateful for more than the odd bored moment; without it occurring in Charlotte’s life, we would not have had the chance to read Jane Eyre, Villette, or this wonderful poem (just one in her repertoire) – the reading of which will definitely chase away the dullness and temper any ‘hours of lonely musing’ that you may experience in the upcoming dark evenings.
The human heart has hidden treasures,
In secret kept, in silence sealed;¬
The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,
Whose charms were broken if revealed.
And days may pass in gay confusion,
And nights in rosy riot fly,
While, lost in Fame’s or Wealth’s illusion,
The memory of the Past may die.
But, there are hours of lonely musing,
Such as in evening silence come,
When, soft as birds their pinions closing,
The heart’s best feelings gather home.
Then in our souls there seems to languish
A tender grief that is not woe;
And thoughts that once wrung groans of anguish,
Now cause but some mild tears to flow.
And feelings, once as strong as passions,
Float softly back-a faded dream;
Our own sharp griefs and wild sensations,
The tale of others’ sufferings seem.
Oh ! when the heart is freshly bleeding,
How longs it for that time to be,
When, through the mist of years receding,
Its woes but live in reverie !
And it can dwell on moonlight glimmer,
On evening shade and loneliness;
And, while the sky grows dim and dimmer,
Feel no untold and strange distress-
Only a deeper impulse given
By lonely hour and darkened room,
To solemn thoughts that soar to heaven,
Seeking a life and world to come.
Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)